The Invention of News

April 3, 2014

At a time when digital media is transforming the way news is delivered–and by whom– Andrew Pettegree offers a reminder that newspapers too were once a revolutionary form of delivering information. In The Invention of News: How The World Came To Know About Itself, Pettegree looks at the changing definition, use, control, and distribution of […]

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How Paris Became Paris

March 21, 2014

In How Paris Became Paris: The Invention of the Modern City, historian Joan DeJean (The Age of Comfort) argues that the real transformation occurred two centuries earlier, when Henri IV set out to rebuild a city that had been ravaged by Catholic and Protestant alike during the thirty-six years of the Wars of Religion. In […]

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Blood Royal: A Medieval CSI Team In Action

March 15, 2014

In Blood Royal: A True Tale of Crime and Detection in Medieval Paris, medievalist Eric Jager returns to the world of medieval true crime stories that he popularized in The Last Duel. On a cold night in November, 1407, a band of masked men assassinated Louis of Orleans, the powerful and unpopular brother of the […]

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Dear Abigail

March 7, 2014

A million years ago, when I had first finished my doctoral dissertation and was tiptoeing toward writing about history for an non-academic audience, I headed off to a week-long writing class in Iowa. Along with the rest of my gear, I packed David McCullough’s then newly released John Adams, on the assumption that it would […]

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Re-Run: If You Only Read One Book On Islamic History…

February 25, 2014

Last year I discovered the best general book on Islamic history I’ve ever read:  Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes by Tanim Ansary.  I underlined as I read.  I annotated.  I put little Post-It tabs at critical points, the durable ones so I could go back to key arguments in the […]

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Samurai: The Last Warrior

February 5, 2014

John Man combines travelogue, history and social commentary n Samurai: The Last Warrior, using the story of Saigo Takamori, popularly known as the “last samurai”, as his central focus. In 1877, Saigo led a hopeless rebellion against the Japanese government. Six hundred samurai armed with traditional sword and bow fought the government’s newly trained modern […]

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January 24, 2014

The flapper of the 1920s took on a mythological character almost from the moment of her birth. With her short hair, short skirts and short attention span, she seemed like a new and unsettling breed of woman, one more aftermath of the First World War. In Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation, Judith Mackrell […]

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History of the World in 12 Maps

January 14, 2014

This post is about a book, a book review, and the discussion that the review sparked. As I’ve mentioned before, I review books for Shelf Awareness for Readers. Mostly history, a little reference–and the occasional cookbook because writer does not live by history alone. Some of the books I receive for review are on subjects […]

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Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas

December 17, 2013

It will come as no surprise to regular readers of History in the Margins–or anyone who browses my office bookshelves–that I am fascinated by maps.   As I’ve mentioned before, history happens in both time and space.  How can you understand an event/culture/war/empire if you don’t have a feel for its geography? As someone interested in […]

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Seed of the Future:Yosemite and the Evolution of the National Park Idea

December 8, 2013

Seed of the Future: Yosemite and the Evolution of the National Park Idea is a beautiful book, with gorgeous pictures and heavy paper that made me hesitate to underline and write in the margins.* It is also an excellent work of history. Written by award-winning filmmaker and writer Dayton Duncan in conjunction with the Yosemite […]

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